Can I Give My Dog Human Dramamine?

Yes, you can give your dog human Dramamine. Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) is safe for dogs, and in veterinary medicine, it is used as an “off-label” or “extra-label.” Although safe and frequently used, it is always advisable to talk with your vet before starting to give your dog Dramamine. 

Dr. Dwight Andrew Alleyne warns that “Owners have to be cautious when using this product to make sure it only contains the active ingredient dimenhydrinate. Sometimes this medication is combined with additional ingredients that can be toxic to pets.” 

For example, the “All Day”/”Less Drowsy” formula features meclizine because it has a lesser sedative effect and is perfectly safe for dogs. 

On the other hand, the “Non-Drowsy Naturals” formula is not safe for dogs because it contains 1000 mg of ginger. In smaller amounts, ginger is good for dogs, but these doses are way too high.

What does Dramamine do for Dogs?

Can I Give My Dog Human Dramamine

Dramamine counteracts the symptoms of motion sickness by blocking the vestibular system. Namely, the dog’s sense of balance is regulated by the fluid inside its inner ears (also known as the vestibular system). 

When traveling, the curves, bumps, and potholes on the road combined with the acceleration of the car agitate the vestibular liquid leading to over-stimulation. When overly stimulated the system sends signals to the brain, and the brain responds by making the dog car sick where they feel dizzy, lightheaded, and nauseous.  

Dramamine works by preventing the vestibular system from sending signals to the brain, thus inhibiting the chain of reaction that culminates with motion sickness. 

Benefits and Uses of Dramamine for Dogs

Dr. Dwight Andrew Alleyne says that “Dramamine is a great medication to help dogs who suffer from motion sickness”. Therefore, preventing car sickness-related nausea and vomiting is the mainstream use of Dramamine for dogs. 

However, being an antihistamine with sedating properties, the medication can be used for other purposes too. Let’s go through the different benefits of Dramamine for dogs. 

Dramamine for Motion Sickness in Dogs. The primary use of Dramamine is battling the symptoms of motion sickness (vomiting and nausea). The active ingredient in this med works by inhibiting the vestibular system in the dog’s inner ear. The vestibular system is responsible for keeping balance and gets confused when traveling in vehicles. 

Dramamine for Allergy Relief in Dogs. Dogs are prone to various forms of allergies, some manifesting with runny noses and eyes while others with itchy skin. Dramamine can efficiently counteract both forms, thus providing much-needed relief from the watery nose/eyes and constantly itchy skin. It goes without saying that Dramamine combats the symptoms (not the allergy cause). 

Dramamine for Anxiety Management in Dogs. Because of the sedative effects, Dramamine can also be used for anxiety management. However, this is not very common use, considering the many anti-anxiety medications available for dogs. 

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What are the Side Effects of Dramamine in Dogs?

The most common side effects of Dramamine for dogs are sleepiness, dry mouth, and urine retention. Other less frequent side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and weight loss, as well as increased heart rate and dry eyes. 

Every medication has the potential to cause side effects, and Dramamine is not an exception. However, you can minimize the risk of adverse reactions and effects by consulting with your veterinarian and sticking to the usage guidelines (Dramamine dose and frequency). 

Consulting with the vet is imperative since Dramamine is not universally suited for all dogs. For example, you should not give this medication to:

  • Dogs allergic to the active ingredient
  • Dogs allergic to other antihistamines 
  • Dogs receiving drugs with known interactions
  • Pregnant dogs and young puppies. 

On the other hand, Dramamine must the used with extra caution in dogs with the following medical conditions:

  • High blood pressure 
  • Heart disease 
  • Enlarged prostate 
  • Bladder or urinary obstruction
  • Gastrointestinal blockage  
  • Glaucoma 
  • COPD
  • Hyperthyroidism

Dramamine Dosage for Dogs 

Benefits and Uses of Dramamine for Dogs

The Dramamine dose depends on the dog’s weight. In general, small dogs can be given 12.5 mg, while medium and large dogs can receive between 25 and 50 mg at least one hour before the car travel. 

The effects of Dramamine start wearing off after eight hours. Therefore, if the travel lasts for longer than that, you will probably need to re-dose your dog. However, you must not overdo it as overdoses are possible. 

Dramamine overdose manifests with seizures, coma, breathing depression, and can cause death. If you suspect such overdoses, call your trusted veterinarian or Animal Poison Control as soon as possible. 

How Long does it Take for Dramamine to Work for Dogs?

Dramamine is a fast-acting medication, meaning it starts working and yields positive effects for dogs one or two hours after administration. 

However, Dramamine is also short-acting and it stops working within eight hours and gets fully eliminated from the dog’s body in 24 hours. These numbers are something you should be mindful of if going on long car rides. 

Dramamine for Dogs Usage Guidelines 

Dramamine is available in the form of standard tablets, chewable tablets, and compounded liquids. You can choose the form that is easier to administer. 

Dramamine can be given with or without food. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, it is better to provide the medication with food. 

We should note that drug interactions are possible. Dramamine may boost or inhibit the effects of the following medications:

  • Anticholinergic drugs
  • Tricyclic antidepressants 
  • Central nervous system depressants. 
  • Heparin and warfarin. 

Also, Dimenhydrinate can interact with antigen skin testing and must be discontinued at least two weeks before such testing. 

Finally, Dramamine should be stored at room temperature and the compounded liquids protected from freezing. Since overdoses are possible, make sure the drug is out of your dog’s reach. 

Dramamine Alternatives for Dogs

Dramamine Alternatives for Dogs

Dramamine is effective and frequently used. However, if your pet has a medical condition that prevents it from using Dramamine or showing adverse effects, there are several alternatives you can try. 

Cerenia for Dogs. Today, one of the most popular medications for dogs with motion sickness is Cerenia (maropitant). Cerenia is the only veterinary product explicitly formulated and licensed to prevent nausea and vomiting linked with car sickness. Cerenia is highly-effective, and most importantly, its effects are non-sedating. You can give your dog Cerenia two hours before the travel. 

Benadryl for Dogs. Another alternative is the old-fashioned Benadryl (diphenhydramine). In terms of acting mechanism, Benadryl is similar to Dramamine (they both belong in the group of antihistamines). The main perks of Benadryl are its low price and the fact it is available over the counter.

If you are not a big fan of medications and your dog’s car sickness is distressing for both of you, do not worry, there are natural remedies too. 

CBD oil for Dogs. Cannabidiol products for pets (oil and treats) can be used to promote calmness and relaxation in dogs during car rides, thus preventing motion sickness and its accompanying issues. We strongly recommend using the Honest Paws CBD Products for dogs. They are made of organic, full-spectrum hemp and feature dog-friendly flavors. Plus, they are health-boosting in general and will support your dog’s overall health and well-being. 

Is Benadryl or Dramamine Better for Dogs?

The active ingredient in Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is almost twice stronger than the active ingredient in Dramamine (dimenhydrinate). However, Dramamine would be considered better when dealing with motion sickness because of its direct action on blocking signals from the vestibular system unlike Benadryl.

Since Dramamine is a bit weaker, you can start with it and if the effects are not sufficient, use Benadryl the next time. Keep in mind that both medications have sedating effects and can cause side effects in some dogs. 

Finally, regardless of which options you find the best, do not forget that the information in this article is purely educational. Before giving your dog any of the medications and supplements mentioned above, consult with your vet.

author avatar
Ivana Crnec, DVM OneVet
Ivana Crnec got her veterinary degree at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bitola. She then continued her education at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Zagreb, Croatia, where she specialized in domestic carnivores.